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Leveraging tradeshow award opportunities

Hello class, school is back in session. Today’s lesson is about taking advantage of tradeshow opportunities and how to leverage any awards, honors or tradeshow recognition you receive into good public relations and media coverage.

There are many opportunities available to exhibitors to maximize their tradeshow experience and get the most ‘bang’ for their tradeshow buck. One of these opportunities, often overlooked by exhibitors, is the best-of-show award opportunities offered at many tradeshows.

These award programs, in most cases, are offered in multiple categories based on industry or application. Often there are categories for “Best New Product,” “Best Small Business,” “Best Innovation” and many more. If you have a relationship or rapport with the show’s producer, suggest a new category that might make your business more eligible for an award.

Where to find award opportunities
The first step, of course, is to research what award programs are available at any given show. This information can usually be found on the show’s website or in the collateral material provided. Remember, if you get noticed and receive publicity for an award/recognition earned at a specific show, the show and its promoters receive publicity and exposure as well. Hence, award opportunities behoove the show producers as well as the exhibitors.

Award submission rules vary greatly. Most have restrictions on the number of words used in copy describing your company’s products, services and its benefits.
Be sure to understand and comply with the rules and requirements as submissions not within the precise parameters of any given contest are often immediately disqualified without any consideration of the quality of the submission.

Most shows require you to submit your product or service for consideration well in advance of the show. This enables show producers to disclose the information to the media on hand, increasing the potential for publicity/exposure for both the award recipients and the show, as well as its producers.
Deadlines for submissions need to be strictly adhered to as entries made even a little late will generally be automatically disqualified.

Don’t be modest
Many companies don’t bother submitting for a best-of-show award or simply overlook the opportunity. Statistically, this clearly increases your odds of winning an award or receiving some kind of recognition at a show. Some shows garner a great deal of award entries while others receive only a few. Outsiders don’t know this; they are simply impressed with the fact that you won an award.

Be proud of your products and services. If they are tradeshow worthy, then they might be worthy of some critical acclaim as well.

Selecting a category for submission
Unless there is neither a cost nor a limit on submissions, exhibitors should carefully consider what product or service to submit and in what category. In that case, create a matrix showing each category and what, if any, of your products might have the best chance of winning.

If there are entry fees attached to each submission, be even more selective about the product and category being considered. Look for categories that eliminate the eligibility of the competition. Some shows have some very distinct categories, including best products revealed at the actual show or best new product released by a small business.

It is important to carefully and thoroughly review all facets of these contest categories so your team can aptly strategize what opportunities to seize and pursue.

Bragging rights: Announcing best-of-show awards
If your company, products or services earn a best-of-show award, react quickly to maximize the benefits. Have a press release template prepared in advanced. After the announcement of your award has been made, forward the release directly to the editors of your target publications and attending media who will ideally and very likely include your announcement in their coverage of the show.

Request a media list from the PR/Marketing representative of the show. Contact information for any given trade publication not covering the show can be found on its respective website. Again, this should all be researched and compiled well before the exhibition takes place as to expedite the distribution of the announcement release in a timely manner. Editors are not interested in old news.

Post your best-of-show release to your company’s website as well as any coverage regarding the award released by the show itself. Additionally, post your press release announcing the award on paid and free press release sites because winning an award as well as receiving media coverage of that honor are both third-party validations of your success.

Don’t be afraid to be graphic and “seal” the deal
Receiving an honor such as a best-of-show award is a big deal and should be touted. When winning such awards, there is generally a graphic ‘seal’ or ‘logo’ created specifically for award recipients to use on their website and other marketing materials. Apply the graphic on and in your booth at tradeshows and secure permission to include a quote or testimonial from the tradeshow or publication that issued the award to use in your company literature as well.


  • Research award opportunities at your next show
  • Educate yourself as to the rules, deadlines, submission fee and entry guidelines
  • Set up a press release announcement template in case you win (fingers crossed)
  • Make sure you have a media list from the show and contact info for trade publications not present
  • Circulate the release to all appropriate parties including qualified leads and current client base
  • Last but not least: Celebrate!

About Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher
Linda Musgrove is President of the Tradeshow Training firm, TradeShow Teacher. She focuses on teaching companies to significantly improve Trade Show Results through strategic, customized Tradeshow Training for individuals, departments or entire teams. Training options include phone consulting, webinars, seminars and one-on-one in person coaching. Musgrove authored “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing. Learn more at
http://www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly Tradeshow Tactics newsletter. Follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tsteacher


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